Honoring Waterford Volunteer, Linda Larson

Volunteer role: Cat Cuddler

Length of service: 2 years

I started volunteering at CHS because … After retiring from a career in health care and social services, I was ready to try something new. I grew up on a farm in Iowa and have always loved animals. I loved cats the best and have shared my life with many through the years. I wanted to get involved with a well-established organization that would be around a long time.

My most memorable moment was … meeting Otis, a cat who had a broken leg. He followed me back and forth in his condo as I visited with other cats. I felt like I won the lottery meeting him, and I adopted him after he got his surgery and recovered.

The little things I do to make a pet’s stay easier include … taking my time, speaking quietly and calmly, reading their body language and meeting them where they are. My biggest reward is winning over a scared and distrustful cat. Being quiet is key.

Volunteering changed my views on shelters because … I didn’t know what to expect. I sought a professionally run organization and was impressed by the lengths CHS will go to for a pet. Take my Otis for example, who needed surgery with a specialist and physical therapy.

Other things I do for CHS pets include … holding collection drives in my condo association for CHS’ Pet Food Pantry. I’ve seen senior pets when they have to be surrendered. It’s incredibly sad both for the pet and the person giving them up. I’ve worked with these pets while volunteering and see how hard it can be for them to adjust. I want to make it easier for people to be able to keep their pets during a rough patch if they can.

My favorite things to do outside of volunteering are … traveling (international and domestic); reading (I’m a volunteer at the Colchester Library); attending arts and culture events at UConn; and watching UConn Women’s Basketball.